Sybase unveiled an updated version of their mobility platform at their annual analyst summit at the New York Stock Exchange, this past week in New York City. As to be expected, Sybase executives weren't able to speak directly about the pending acquisition by SAP, but, I must say that I was very impressed by Sybase CEO John Chen's candor. At the conclusion of the event, I had a good laugh with Sybase's legal counsel (I joked about my expectation that someone was about run out to cut off John's microphone — he concurred). To no one’s surprise, Mr. Chen's passion was evident, and he remains very bullish about his company's prospects.
The "Unwired Platform"
Sybase’s new mobility platform tightens the integration of the "Sybase Unwired Platform" (SUP) that the company announced two summers ago with its other mobile assets (iAnywhere - applications, SQL Anywhere - database, and IQ - analytics). The updated platforms foundation is its "middleware services", what the company refers to as its "super glue". The core element is the data and device management capabilities that Sybase continues to refine (the Afaria Device Management Suite). Additionally, Sybase has been very aware of the rise in personally-owned mobile devices (or employee liable devices), and have an integrated solution (sandbox), that isolates enterprise data from personal data. At a high level, the platform can enable a company to securely deliver content from an application on the fly, in practically any format, and on any mobile device. The ecosystem of companies Sybase has assembled around its mobility strategy is essential to the company's success — with an impressive roster of system integrators, device manufacturers, and carriers, a logical step forward was to move more aggressively with application providers (ISVs). If everything goes according to plan, Sybase will become part of one of the most pervasive enterprise software companies this fall — SAP.
Sapphire - "Mobile is the new Desktop"
I wasn't able to attend Sapphire this past week, but got a good recap from SAP. I'm sure that many of you have seen the aforementioned quote — sure, it's going to grab headlines, but it’s safe to say that I think SAP is getting a little bit ahead of themselves. From the recaps I've read, Sapphire attendees were generally pleased with what they heard at the event. As expected by many, mobility, Business ByDesign (BBD), and BI/Analytics were the hot topics, with SAP announcing that BBD was ready for prime time (finally), the reassertion that in-memory database technology will enhance its BI positioning, and then, of course, the mobility quote that generated so much buzz. Regardless of their past struggle with their SaaS and mobility endeavors, it is obvious that the company’s new leadership has gotten serious, and they have placed a large “bet” on both.
I do see competition heating up for SAP, with SaaS-focused companies like Netsuite and Salesforce (both have significant leads in terms of customers) pursuing SAP accounts. SAP has a lot on its plate (getting BBD off the ground clearly being one of the top priorities) and with the Sapphire event behind them, they can now focus on getting down to the business of executing on product development. Of course, there remains the small issue of finalizing the Sybase acquisition — discovering, integrating, taking advantage of the synergies they are getting, and finishing the year strong.